Editor's note: This is Shalom Suniula's third column in his series of RUGBYMag.com The USA 7s team captain will be updating readers on life in the 7s team, the players, the coaching, and notes from the IRB World Series. This column was previewed by RUGBYMag.com Premier Subscribers late last week, and is now available to all. - AG
I mentioned in my last segment a bit on 'belief' in our game plan, in ourselves, and in each other. Belief within our team requires every player to stretch for a common objective, which is based on performance goals that we have mapped out together.
The past 4 weeks we have been rebuilding our team, Piecing together what we believe was missing from Gold Coast.
We aim to hold each other mutually accountable to this approach. Getting the team to work together continually challenged my leadership. The more talented the team members, the better the leadership needed on the front end. I felt like the true challenge was not getting the team to work hard but to work hard together. Along the way my weaknesses as a captain were slowly revealed, but fortunately I was able to counterbalance these personal work-ons with the strengths of the team.
|Shalom Suniula has been a regular with the USA National 7s team since late 2008, appearing in the 2009 7s World Cup, and playing in more than 30 IRB World Series tournaments. Last season he was named captain of the team and remains in that role today.
Each individual has a role in the team, and coach Mags has painted a black and white game plan that he wants the team to play. It provides flexibility but holds all 12 individuals responsible for their roles. At times in the past we had dodged our individual responsibilities.
However, we will never be able to avoid the consequences of dodging our responsibilities, and that has shown in our results. To change results we have to take more ownership of our own responsibilities. In addition, we have to train that way, and so coach has evolved our training methods of late. There is definitely a greater sense of unity within our team because of this, and now this will hopefully reflect in our performance in Dubai.
As a result, coach Mags was left with the difficult task of picking the 12 who will suit up in Dubai next week. Nate Augspurger from Minnesota and Jack Halalilo from San Francisco will be introduced to the big stage. Both are exciting players that have a high work ethic, are tough, and who pride themselves in defense. Matt Hawkins, Colin Hawley, Maka Unufe, Nick Edwards, co-captain ZackTest and I are the more experienced heads in the squad. We are all expecting more of ourselves this coming tour having worked hard this past few weeks getting on the same page.
Also returning from injury is Folau Niua who has natural flare, which will add continuity into our attack systems.
There have been a lot of sparks flying around Carlin Isles and his electrifying speed. He has been working hard at training to position himself in the right place at the right time to execute tries like we saw in Gold Coast. He is well aware of the competition out there and is soaking in as much rugby knowledge as possible, knowing that he will be targeted now by the opposition. Training daily at the Olympic Training Center facilitates all his needs to develop into a great rugby player. His greatest challenge to date is “patience”. Learning the finer details of the game take time, yet Isles has been hard at work learning these over the past four weeks.